Things That Matter

This Man Graduated From College At 58 Years Old After Working As A Farmworker Who Immigrated From Mexico

During this graduation season, we love to hear about first-time college graduates, especially from those who are children of immigrants. It’s so inspiring to read how so many of these people worked hard to make their parents proud, especially because they worked even harder to give their children a better life. In very few cases, it’s not just their children who are graduating but the parents themselves.

Fifty-eight-year-old Adolfo González, a farmworker who used to pick celery, earned his bachelor’s degree from the California State University, Monterey Bay.

Twitter/@ThinkMexican

González, an indigenous immigrant from Mexico, worked in agriculture for years in Salinas Valley, California but always dreamed about going back to school. According to The Californian, González went back to nigh school to learn English. But even while continuing his studies, he never forgot his roots.

“I think it’s very important to learn our indigenous language because it’s part of our culture,” he told the publication. “It’s part of our identity.”

González graduated early and with honors a year after his daughter got her college degree as well.

Twitter/@TUSK81

“The most important thing for me is not what I’m doing now,” he told the publication. “The most important thing to me is to inspire people to do the same thing I did, because, como dijo Cesar Chavez, ‘Si se puede.'”

His journey and story to get to that stage are inspiring everyone who is reading about him on social media.

The “Si Se Puede” motto can take us all the way to the top. Not only does it inspire us to reach for the best that we can be, it also reminds us of how far we’ve come.

His story is proof that determination is the most important part of anyone’s journey.

“I took the decision to come to the United States like everybody does, because it’s the only way we can support our family,” he said. “I always promised to my mom ‘I will buy you a house,’ and I did it.”

He pursued an education so that he could continue to help his community.

Who wouldn’t want someone this passionate as their teacher? He is going to change the lives and thoughts of so many people. He is the kind of people we need to become educators to spark that love of education in others.

Big congratulations to Adolfo and his unending determination to become the best version of himself that he could be.

He will be like another Mr. Escalante. At least we can all hope that he will be the next big teacher to change lives one class at a time.

Congratulations, Adolfo González.

Share your touching graduation stories with us on social media using #MituGraduate.

READ: She Dropped Out Of High School When She Got Pregnant And Her Farm Working Parents Gave Her All The Advice She Needed To Get A Master’s

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California Sets Vaccination Plan For Agricultural Workers During Next Phase

Things That Matter

California Sets Vaccination Plan For Agricultural Workers During Next Phase

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The world is racing to vaccinate everyone to put a stop to the relentless Covid-19 pandemic. In the U.S., states and counties are rolling out their own plans based on suggestions from health experts. California, home to the largest population of farmworkers, is making them a priority.

California has laid out their vaccination plan and farmworkers are being prioritized.

California is facing a relentless Covid-19 surge of infections, deaths, and hospitalizations. According to The New York Times, California has the second-highest level of infections per capita in the U.S. More than 30,000 people have died of Covid in California and the vaccination effort has been severely lagging.

California’s vaccination plan has been criticized for its very slow roll out.

According to the California Department of Public Health, more than 816,000 doses of the virus have been given to residents. There have been more than 2 million vaccine doses shipped to California. Currently, California, the most populated state in the country, is still in Phase 1A. Phase 1A is for healthcare workers and long-term care residents. The Vaccinate All 58 campaign claims that there are 3 million people in California in Phase 1A. Almost 40 million people live in California.

Activists have been calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to make sure that farmworkers are prioritized.

California is home to the largest concentration of farmworkers in the U.S. The Center for Farmworker Families claims that 500,000 to 800,000 farmworkers, or about 1/3 to 1/2 of the farmworker populations, live in California. Seventy-five percent of farmworkers in California are undocumented.

As the rest of the state was able to shelter in place, farmworkers did not stop working. They provided a necessary lifeline to the nation in keeping the food supply running. Farmworkers are more likely to contract Covid because of their living conditions. Studies show that the low wages that farmworkers are paid means that many live in crowded conditions.

READ: As The U.S. Rolls Out The COVID-19 Vaccine, What’s The Future Of Vaccine Access In Latin America?

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The First Ever Tribally-Associated Medical School Opened On Cherokee Lands

Things That Matter

The First Ever Tribally-Associated Medical School Opened On Cherokee Lands

Credit: Getty Images

In this unprecedented year that has pushed the boundaries of the healthcare industry past its breaking point, a new kind of medical school is making history. A medical school that caters to Indigenous American medical students.

The school is called Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation (COMCN), and it will be the first tribally-associated medical school in the U.S.

Largely the brainchild of former principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Bill John Baker, the project aims to combine the practices of traditional healing practice of the Cherokee people with Western medical teachings.

Bill John Baker’s original goal was to invest money into the Cherokee Nation medical system. His fundraising efforts drew the attention of Oklahoma State University, who approached the then-principal Chief with the idea of opening up a medical school on reservation lands. To him, the decision was a no-brainer.

“After we were removed from tribal lands and there were no teachers, we invested our treasury into teachers. This is a natural progression. Just as our ancestors grew their own teachers 150 years ago, we want to grow our own doctors,” Bill John Baker told Medscape.

As recent reports have detailed, Indigenous communities are being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the CDC, Indigenous Americans are testing positive for COVID-19 at 3.5 times the rate of white Americans. This is largely due to lingering historical inequities and structural failings that negatively impact the overall health of Indigenous Americans.

One of the solutions to this institutional failing is to recruit and train more doctors of color–in this case, more Indigenous American doctors. As of now, 0.4% of doctors in the U.S. identify themselves as being American Indian or Alaska Native.

Since COMCN is a state school, non-Indigenous students are welcome to study at the school as well. According to the university’s states, 22% of its students identify as Native American, while they make up less than 1% of the U.S. population.

The devastation that COVID-19 has wrought globally has spurred an uptick in medical school applications.

In what has been dubbed the “Fauci Effect”, the number of potential students applying to medical school is up 18% this year from last year. It seems that this global health crisis has sparked a desire in certain people dedicate their lives to medicine.

So COMCN couldn’t come at a better time. America needs more Indigenous doctors and COMCN is here to teach them.

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